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Kevin Earnest | You Feel Like Home

Album review by John Powell

Kevin Earnest | You Feel Like Home

I don’t know if Earnest is Kevin’s true last name, but it suits his music wonderfully. The L.A. musician’s full-length You Feel Like Home is complete with rockers, ballads, happy songs, and layers of piano, (Kevin’s instrument), guitar, strings, and drums, played by Matt Tesch, and the instrument that carries the album. 14 musicians are credited as contributors to the album, from a core of Matt, Cliff Starbuck on bass, and Robbie Allen and James Killington on guitar, along with the string players and percussion. With the colorful sense of melody that Ben Folds has, (without the angst), and with the pop/charisma and voice reminiscent of Maroon 5, You Feel Like Home still never feels like a copycat. It’s original, lush, and very Earnest, if not, at times, dragging and ho-hum.

The opener, “Wear it Well”, actually reminds me of Oasis, should they have tried a pop piano song. Melodically it’s moving. Kevin has a big vocal range and puts it to the test, (passing grade!). “Movin’ on/But you are always on my mind,” Kevin sings. “Show us that love can only grow when it’s on your sleeve.” The strings make it big.

“The Rain Maker” has its moments of ho-hum. “Lying wide awake/certain you would try,” are weak lines, but then he says, “Miss my mother/love my father/hope they feel the same.” Wow. The organ grinds. The acoustic guitar, in a slight Mexican duel-type feel, leads to Brian Lackey’s trumpet interlude, the classic Mariachi solo. The song succeeds on its instrumentation over the lyrics.

One of the prettier songs is “Beyond the Orange Groves”, with staccato piano keeping rhythm and roving bass. “I’m home/with no place I can go,” Kevin sings. “I’ve never spoken from my mind/my heart’s on a plane.” The song is one of his strongest vocal performances, with a bit of edge, and a catchy melody.

On “Ballard California” Kevin shouts out to his west base. “I will dream all my fears away,” he sings. “I’m alive, but feel alone.” You can’t tell if it’s a love/hate song about a long-distance lover or about L.A., but that’s the fun of the song and what keeps it from sounding conventional.

A key track is his single, “Stuck In the Way”, complete with a great music video set in L.A. In fact, the song is one for the books. The album strove to have all the instruments stack on top of each other, never drowning out Kevin’s voice, (smart move), and on “Stuck In the Way”, the layers of violin, picked electric guitar, and of course thumping drums, breed a forward-focused rock ballad. “I couldn’t go/and couldn’t stay for a while/Every which way/is always pointed to the road.” The lyrics are poetic with a sense of pun and syntax. The chorus, with Kevin hitting high notes, is Five For Fighting excellent.

The album is dense. Kevin has a lot to say. They all start soft and grow into explosions of hooks and emotional unlocking. This is the pop song formula, however, and it works… only, Kevin is capable of breaking beyond this. Unfortunately, if you put the whole album on, by the time you get to “Hummingbird’s Song”, a strong wave of intensity, it’s lost in the series of formulae.

Overall, however, “You Feel Like Home” is a well-made, well-thought out album that, if it ever falls short on lyricism is upped by the performances, and anyone that enjoys pop/rock focused on piano will find a new friend in Kevin Earnest.

Bottom line: Much heart from L.A.’s newest underground pop powerhouse makes for an album with a residency on your iPod.

Comments  

 
+2 # Jason 2011-08-22 19:08
These guys are the real deal... Music needs a band like this now!
 
 
0 # Matt 2011-08-22 19:37
Thanks for the review.
I appreciate the honesty in your writing.
 

 

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